UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development of an energy-absorbing seat base to reduce risk of whiplash injuries in rear end collisions Saffari, Payam


Rear end collisions are the most frequently occurring type of motor vehicle collisions. The most common type of injuries reported, as a consequence of rear end collisions, are soft tissue neck injuries—often called whiplash injuries. These injuries bring about significant costs to society and every year a substantial portion of insurance claims are dedicated to these injuries. In BC alone, whiplash injuries cost over $850 million annually. The automobile seating system is the predominant safety device employed to protect the occupant from whiplash injury during a rear end collision. To enhance the safety of vehicle seats, several safety systems have been developed, which focus mostly on the head restraint and the seat back; however, utilizing the seat base as a component to further assist in whiplash protection has remained relatively unexamined. The objective of this study is to develop an energy-absorbing supplemental safety system mounted into the seat base to reduce the dynamic effects of a rear end collision on a front seat occupant, and thus reduce the risk of whiplash injury. Aluminum foam is used as the energy-absorbing element in the proposed system. This concept was first proposed by Mansour and Romilly (2011), and the current study continues the previous research by bringing it to a later stage in terms of the validation and accuracy of the predictive models used, and the design of the prototype device. A finite element based model of a BioRID-II seated in a GM High Retention Seat was developed in this study. To assess the effectiveness of the proposed system, the results of the seat-dummy model with and without the device installed were compared, and the effects of the proposed safety system on the occupant’s dynamic response were critically assessed. Furthermore, the relationships between the geometry and material properties of the foam and the potential of occupant injury (as assessed using selected neck injury criteria) were investigated. The results indicate that employing the proposed system can effectively reduce the risk of whiplash injuries in rear end collisions over a range of severity ranging from low (3.8 kmph) to high speed impacts (32.2 kmph).

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